Mobility managers and other HR and business leaders like to plan well into the future. Having an outlook for the next 12 months and beyond has typically been seen as a strategic best practice.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted this process. With so much uncertainty in the world, it’s been nearly impossible to look into the future with any confidence. Planning for short-term needs has taken priority.
The result has been that “reiterative planning in shorter time frames” has quickly become “the most substantial development in workforce planning,” according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Brian Kropp, group vice president and chief of research of Gartner’s HR practice, suggests tweaking plans every three months while maintaining a broad, long-term vision of three to five years.
“You have to make more incremental adjustments to how the world is moving, rather than try to predict where the world’s going to be,” Kropp tells SHRM.
In our recent article looking at how mobility can begin to recover following the challenges of 2020, we offered similar advice:
This is a good year to approach planning a bit differently. Instead of a typical 12-month plan, consider setting your sights on a six- or even three-month plan. At the end of that block of time, put together another short-term agenda to keep your team moving forward.
This might feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s good practice for being nimble in an uncertain time. The recovery from COVID-19 is going to be uneven and likely take some twists and turns. Learning how to set goals and make decisions without looking too far around the corner can help your program in the long run.
SHRM noted that a more rapid workforce planning process, as well as an increased emphasis on meeting employee needs during these difficult times, has “elevated the influence of HR in many organizations.” The same could be said for mobility programs. Balancing short- and long-term planning will be challenging in the months ahead, but programs that excel here will show tremendous value to their organizations.
The most substantial development in workforce planning is reiterative planning in shorter time frames, experts say. Brian Kropp, group vice president and chief of research of Gartner’s HR practice, says consultants at the firm used to tell clients to follow the advice of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky: “Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.” In the business world, the quote has often been used to illustrate the need for innovation.